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Superintendent’s Welcome Message 2017

Welcome Letter to Families — September 2017

Welcome to the 2017–18 school year! We have a busy and exciting year ahead in Eugene School District 4J. Our schools are ready and our staff are excited to start the year with your students.

We are ready and eager to challenge and support every student to pursue excellence. We are committed to caring for and supporting all students in a school environment that is safe and welcoming for all. Together, we will help your student succeed.

Some key things we want you to know as we start the school year:

  • 4J stands against hate and supports positive school climates for all
  • 4J wants to see your student in class on time every day
  • 4J is implementing our district’s 4J Vision 20/20 Strategic Planto support students’ success
  • 4J is making critical investments for student learning

Safe schools

In Eugene School District 4J, our main focus is always on academic and personal achievement. But for all of our students to achieve, they need to know that their schools are safe spaces for everyone. We are committed to providing a safe and respectful teaching and learning environment that is free from discrimination, harassment and bullying.

There is a political storm roiling in our country. We cannot control the political climate. We can moderate the behavior in our classrooms and our hallways. We can teach kids to work together, to treat each other with respect, to problem solve, to work with adults to resolve their differences using positive language and approaches.

Here is where we draw the line in the sand: We stand against hate.

We want all of our 4J families to know that in Eugene School District 4J, hateful words and actions will not be tolerated; bullying, harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated. We will interrupt any words and symbols and actions of hate we see in our schools. We will stop hurtful actions and respond with education and restorative discipline. If you or your student encounter these things, please talk to a school administrator right away.

Our schools should be safe spaces for every student, every staff member and every family. Our schools should be places where everyone treats each other with consideration and respect, regardless of their color, heritage, religion, language, identity, or political persuasions.

This is not about politics. This is about drawing the line on conduct that disrupts the safety of our students and the functioning of our schools. This is about our expectations for behavior in our classrooms and hallways.

Everyone who walks through our school doors—our staff, students, parents, volunteers and visitors—should meet the same behavior standards our teachers set for kindergarteners on day one. Kindergarten rules are a pretty good basic guide for all ages: Be safe. Be kind. Be honest. Be helpful. Respect others. Respect yourself. Respect your school. Listen when others are talking. Walk in the hallways. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Just imagine how our world would be different if everyone followed these kindergarten rules.

I believe in our 4J community. I have faith that even when the political discourse in our country is degenerating into shouting and violence, we can keep calm, carry on, and create a climate where every student feels safe at school. Thank you for your support to make that hope a reality.

On time every day 

For students to learn, they need to be at school—on time, every day, every class. We are counting on families to help support that regular on-time attendance.

A student who is just 10 minutes late each day misses 30 hours of teaching and learning over the course of the school year. A student who is absent from school 1-½ days each month on average from kindergarten through high school loses a YEAR of education.

Poor attendance can influence whether a child reads proficiently by the end of third grade, negatively affect other aspects of a student’s academic performance, and predict the likelihood that a student will drop out of high school.

Helping your student get to school on time every day is one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your child for success. When you make school attendance a priority, you help your child get better grades, develop positive life habits, and have a better chance of graduating from high school ready to be successful in college, career and life.

Thank you for partnering with your school to help ensure your student is at school on time for every class, every day. It makes a difference.

Plan for the future

We are committed to your student’s and all students’ success. The 4J Vision 20/20 strategic plan guides our work and holds us accountable to the promise of educational excellence and equity for all.

We have a vision of every student connected to community and empowered to succeed. Our five key goals are:

• Educational Excellence and Equity
• Multiple Pathways to Student Success
• Communication and Connection with Community
• Diverse, World-Class Workforce
• Stable, Sustainable Stewardship.

Student achievement is the bottom line. The strategic plan is a framework for how we will improve our systems and supports to help all of our students succeed.

Investing in student success

We have a great deal of work underway in our district to achieve the goals we’ve set. Here are just a few of the investments we’re making this year to support student success in Eugene School District 4J:

  • Full school year with no furlough days
  • Class size reductions for the largest classes by making targeted additions of extra teachers
  • Full course schedules for both 10th and 9th grade students (learn more)
  • Counselors full-time at every elementary school (part-time at the two smallest schools)
  • Language immersion:
    • New Mandarin Chinese immersion school (learn more)
    • More staffing for middle and high school immersion programs in the North Eugene region
  • Modernized curriculum for teaching and learning in science, math and health (learn more)
  • Free breakfast available every day for every student at every elementary school (learn more)
  • and so much more (see more budget information here)


Thank you for the privilege of serving your children, your family, and our community. We have terrific kids. We have involved parents—all of you. We have an outstanding team of educators. We have a local community that believes in the importance of public education. We are always working to do the very best for every student with the resources we have. Thank you for being a part of this critical work.

Together, we’ll make 2017–18 a terrific year.

Dr. Gustavo Balderas
Eugene School District 4J